Flux and surprise have become the new norm.
This is the era where reality TV personalities become presidential front-runners and Academy Award hosts call out Hollywood. Just when you think you've seen it all, there's a new twist.
Making sense of this, is challenging, to say the least. But here are three key points that may help in understanding an era of convergent disruption -- multiple disruptive forces operating roughly simultaneously.
Convergent disruption was among the main themes at the recent Brigadoon conference. The annual invitation-only event at Robert Redford's Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah assembles entrepreneurs and thought-leaders to exchange insights and foster creativity. This year, the speakers discussed disruption and the future of TV news, disorder around communications strategies from top national government agencies, bold, new creative strategy applications and jolting ideas around territorial borders. Among the major insights were:
1. New Powerati
There is a new elite that is forming. They will come from areas previously considered outside the mainstream and possess an array of new skills that include being able to motivate, connect and organize the public. This applies to both the public and private sector. The powerati will come from different levels of academic institutions, and sometimes from no institution. There will be a merging of the savvy old-school with a bold new school that will make for not simply new leaders but new conglomerates that will drive, shift, and re-shape conversations. That's because cultural hierarchy, overall, is being flattened and re-defined. Technology has led to the rise of the digital voice. There are fewer news filters and wider access to information.
2. Rejecting Establishment
There is an expanding rejection of anything considered establishment. Observers have linked this behavior to anger, but this might not be the full picture. It is more that there is a trust deficit, particularly when it comes to millennials. It is also that people feel more empowered to write their own rules, depart from the norm and move away from anything that has an agenda. This is only the beginning. Watch for even more disruption as people question more. How should someone keep pace with this trend? Follow a greater number of underground and social media voices to determine true and varied public sentiment. Pundits and legacy media are usually the last to know something.
3. New Societal Values
While many people yearn for the old days and see convergent disruption as a blip on the radar, there will be more upheaval. When you see behavioral change, you have a good idea that something has taken root. For example, millennials' and others' demand that brands become more socially responsible is not a passing fad. Nor is the response of corporations who now understand that they will be judged not just for the quality of their products but how they operate. Are they ethical? Do they think about how their actions might impact the public? The sharing economy epitomized by Uber and various short-term rental businesses are part of this trend. They all represent new societal values.
Cultural intelligence, a deeper understanding of what moves people, is becoming crucial for success. Individuals who possess this quality will know how to drive home a message and engage audiences. That's what sells products and stirs people to action. That's where the new power will lie.